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The Forgotten Fear: Where Have All the God-Fearers Gone?

The Forgotten Fear: Where Have All the God-Fearers Gone?

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The Forgotten Fear: Where Have All the God-Fearers Gone?

173 Seiten
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Oct 14, 2015


The fear of God is an important theme in the Bible, yet many Christians today overlook it or treat it carelessly. Fearing God is the soul of godliness, and those who claim to love God should desire to understand what it means to fear Him. The Forgotten Fear revisits this important topic. Author Albert Martin first establishes the theme of the fear of God in both the Old and New Testaments, and then defines what fearing God means. Finally, he addresses the practical implications of fearing God, showing its expression in the lives of Abraham and Joseph and providing instruction for believers today to maintain and increase their fear of God.

Table of Contents: 1. Predominance of the Fear of God in Biblical Thought
2. Definition of the Fear of God
3. Ingredients of the Fear of God
4. Source of the Fear of God
5. Relationship of the Fear of God to Our Conduct
6. How to Maintain and Increase the Fear of God
7. A Final Word to the Reader
Oct 14, 2015

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The Forgotten Fear - Albert N. Martin




Albert N. Martin


Grand Rapids, Michigan

The Forgotten Fear: Where Have All the God-Fearers Gone?

© 2015 by Albert N. Martin

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. Direct your requests to the publisher at the following address:

Reformation Heritage Books

2965 Leonard St. NE

Grand Rapids, MI 49525

616-977-0889 / Fax 616-285-3246

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Printed in the United States of America

15 16 17 18 19 20/10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

ISBN 978-1-60178-422-3 (epub)

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Martin, Albert N.

The forgotten fear : where have all the God-fearers gone? / Albert N.


pages cm

Includes bibliographical references.

ISBN 978-1-60178-421-6 (pbk. : alk. paper) 1. Fear of God—Biblical

teaching. 2. Fear of God—Christianity. I. Title.

BS680.F42M37 2015



For additional Reformed literature, request a free book list from Reformation Heritage Books at the above regular or e-mail address.



Chapter 1: Predominance of the Fear of God in Biblical Thought

Chapter 2: Definition of the Fear of God

Chapter 3: Ingredients of the Fear of God

Chapter 4: Source of the Fear of God

Chapter 5: Relationship of the Fear of God to Our Conduct

Chapter 6: How to Maintain and Increase the Fear of God

Chapter 7: A Final Word to the Reader


When in the late 1960s Al Martin arrived in England and spoke at the Banner of Truth Conference, there was an immediate recognition that this was a new and powerful voice declaring in a winsome and moving way the old truths. Dr. Martin was like a man who had dug a hole in a field and discovered treasure. He had read Ryle and Murray, Warfield and M‘Cheyne, the Reformers, the Puritans, the leaders of the Evangelical Awakening, Spurgeon, Tozer, and Lloyd-Jones, and he had made them his own. He declared them not in a copycat way, not in mere word, but in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much assurance. He refreshed and quickened us so that we who heard him were encouraged to examine again those past leaders of the mighty works of God and ask the reason for the impact they made in their generation.

There are several marks of the blessing of God on a ministry. Many people are converted, new assurance is given to Christian believers, and the fear of the Lord is present in that place. That is a basic Christian response to the gospel preached and lived out by the followers of the Lord Jesus from the very beginning. Hear this refrain from the book of Acts: So great fear came on all those who heard these things (Acts 5:5); Great fear came upon all the church (Acts 5:11). Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied (Acts 9:31). Fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified (Acts 19:17). So the New Testament church at its most vibrant and credible lived its life throughout the time of [its] stay here in fear (1 Peter 1:17).

The solemn distinctive of a world that has rejected Christ is, There is no fear of God before their eyes (Rom. 3:18), while the voice from heaven addresses the world, crying out, Fear God and give glory to Him (Rev. 14:7). Fearing God is not some option for a few special Christians. It is foundational to all who name God as their God—an utterly essential mark of true religion. A stranger to the fear of God is a stranger to the living God Himself. This grace must characterize all true Christian worship under the blessing of God.

How we need help here, and this book of Dr. Martin is one valuable means of kindling the flame of the fear of God in the midst of the church again. It began in a series of sermons preached in his church and then to gatherings of Christians. Always the messages enlightened, convicted, and motivated the hearers. There was thanksgiving, praise, and a new determination to walk in the fear of God. Dr. Martin has carefully worked on this material, keeping the immediacy of the preaching style without its necessary redundancies, but maintaining its engagement and application, addressing the consciences of all who read these pages, and enlightening the mind with careful biblical exegesis. I thank God for this means of grace and commend it to you. May our generation cry out, Who shall not fear You, O Lord? (Rev. 15:4).

—Geoff Thomas


Predominance of the Fear of God in Biblical Thought

The fear of God is a massive and dominant theme in Scripture. It is also a theme that was very prominent both in the thinking and in the preaching of our spiritual forefathers. When our spiritual forefathers desired to describe someone who was characterized by genuine godliness, they would often call him a God-fearing man. This designation reflected the fact that men realized the fear of God was nothing less than the soul of godliness. Take away the soul from the body, and all you have left in a few days is a stinking carcass. Take away the fear of God from any profession of godliness, and all that is left is the stinking carcass of pharisaism, barren religiosity, or calculated hypocrisy.

To begin, let us consider the predominance of the fear of God in biblical thought. One does not need much learning to reach the conclusion that the fear of God is indeed a dominant theme in the Bible. In fact, equipped with a relatively good concordance (such as Strong’s or Young’s), you could discover the major concerns of the study that I am here presenting. If you looked up the word fear in your concordance, you would notice that there are no fewer than 150 to 175 explicit references to the fear of God. If you add to these explicit references the instances in Scripture where the fear of God is illustrated, though not explicitly stated, it is accurate to say that the references to the fear of God run well into the hundreds. It is amazing, then, that a theme so dominant in the Old and the New Testaments can either be greatly overlooked or carelessly treated, as it often is in our day. I trust after we grasp something of the predominance of this theme that you will not be content with a mere cursory knowledge or passing acquaintance with the fear of God. One simply cannot claim to love the God and truths of the Bible and still remain indifferent to a subject which is so prominent throughout the Scripture.1

The Fear of God in the Old Testament

We start first with an overview of the fear of God in the Old Testament.

The Books of the Law

Genesis 31 is perhaps one of the most significant passages in all of Scripture as it relates to the predominance of the fear of God in biblical thought. Here, the patriarch Jacob said, Unless the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had been with me, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed (v. 42). Throughout the Scriptures, God’s name is a revelation of His character. Here, one of His names is the Fear of Isaac. When God is rightly apprehended, true biblical fear of Him is so much a part of a right response to the revelation of His character that He calls Himself the Fear of Isaac. If my perception of God and my comprehension of His revealed character do not lead me to fear Him as Isaac did, I have not rightly understood who God is.

Exodus 18 contains the record of Moses’ problem of seeking to govern single-handedly the entire nation of Israel, including dealing with many concerns that called for the judgment of a mature mind. Jethro, his father-in-law, suggested that Moses was not up to the task by himself and that he ought to share this oversight with other competent men. When the requirements are given for those who would qualify to fill this role as judges, verse 21 says, Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. Of all the requirements that could be laid down for men to administer justice in the mighty nation which Israel had become, set at the very pinnacle of importance is that they must be men who fear God. Whatever other qualities they may or may not have, if they are not men whose primary characteristic is the fear of God, they would not be qualified for this significant role of administering justice and solving problems within the nation of Israel.

In Deuteronomy 4, Moses explains to the nation of Israel why God had chosen to give them His laws and statutes. Moses charges the nation not to forget the words God spoke to them, that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children (v. 12). In this passage, God Himself indicates that the great end for which He made known His words to the nation of Israel was that they might learn what it means to fear God.

When the apostle Paul is enumerating the peculiar privileges the nation had, he asserts, What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God (Rom. 3:2). If the chief blessing of being an Israelite was being a possessor of God’s words, and God Himself says that those words were given to teach them to fear Him, then the fear of God is a central motif in the entire corpus of the Mosaic revelation.

The Book of Job

In the book of Job, we shift from God’s dealings to teach an entire nation His fear to His dealings with an individual Old Testament saint. This saint is not like the Pharisee who boasted of his own supposed attainments in grace, but one of whom God Himself boasts. The book begins with these words: There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil (Job 1:1). The words blameless and upright constitute a description of the observable patterns of Job’s life. However, God goes on to describe the inward disposition that produced those patterns. Job is "one who feared God. This identification of the outward patterns and the inward principle of Job’s life is repeated in verse 8, Then the LORD said to Satan, ‘Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?’ The soul of Job’s external piety was this inward fear of his God. Verse 9 reads, So Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘Does Job fear God for nothing?’" Satan responds that God believes that the fear of His name is the soul of Job’s godliness, but Job has another dominant and self-serving motive for the service he renders to Him. The whole story then unfolds as God vindicates His claims on behalf of His servant Job. But we see that the essence of Job’s piety—and God’s estimation of all true piety—is that it is animated by and suffused with the fear of God.

The Psalms

As we observe the central place the Old Testament gives to the fear of God, we look next at the Psalms. Here we will find many references to the fear of God. In Psalm 2, God reveals His purpose to exalt His Son to His messianic throne from which He will execute both grace and judgment. Having announced that purpose, God then gives the following command:

Now therefore, be wise, O kings;

Be instructed, you judges of the earth.

Serve the LORD with fear,

And rejoice with trembling. (Ps. 2:10–11)

God is saying, In the light of what I have purposed to do with reference to My Son and the pivotal place which I have assigned to Him, the only right response is service rendered to Him that is carried out in the context of godly fear. Serve the LORD with fear. We must say, then, that if our view of Christ and His exaltation by the Father’s decree does not induce us to serve Him in the climate of godly fear, we have not rightly understood nor responded to the exaltation of the Son by the decree of the Father.

Psalm 67 is one of those great gospel psalms that focuses on the proclamation of God’s saving mercy to the ends of the earth. The psalmist pleads that God will be merciful to him and to His covenant people—to this end: That Your way may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations (Ps. 67:2). And what will be the result of God’s saving message going out to the nations? The answer is in verse 7: God shall bless us, and all the ends of the earth shall fear Him. In other words, the whole end for which the gospel goes out through God’s covenant people is to teach the nations the fear of God. Does this not make the fear of God a most crucial issue in our understanding and experience of God’s salvation? God expresses His determination to bless His people in order that they in turn may bring blessing to others. He states His purpose in these words: God shall bless us, and all the ends of the earth shall fear Him (v. 7).

Psalm 103 contains several references to the fear of God, and they have a common thread. They teach us that the fear of God is an indispensable characteristic of the true people of God. So much is this the case, that in describing the true people of God, the psalmist uses this phrase—those who fear God. Notice verse 11: For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him. Does it say that His mercy is toward all men? No. The idea that God’s redemptive love is just some kind of a general, gushy benevolence that is focused on all men without distinction is not the teaching of Holy Scripture. Here the psalmist says, "His mercy [is] toward those who fear Him." His peculiar love is on His people. And who are His

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